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Fact Sheet • July 2009
estlé has taken water from numerous U.S. communities for cheap or nothing, bottled and sold it — for billions of dollars in profit — and then dumped the environmental and other costs onto society. Producing Nestlé’s Bottled Water Is Energy-Intensive
Nestlé’s North American bottled water brands contribute to the pollution, energy and climate change trouble associated with bottled water production and distribution in general. However, the company tries to “greenwash” its role in this. For example, it has touted its lighter-weight single-serve bottled water products as an example of a way to go green.9 The fact is, plastic bottles still use petroleum resources and many empty Nestlé bottles still end up as trash along roadways or in landfills. Consider the following information arrived at from Food & Water Watch calculations: U.S. consumers disposed of some 30.08 billion bottles in 2006. That year, Nestlé controlled 30.4 percent of the U.S. bottled water market, measured in volume of water sold. If market share in volume roughly equates to the market share in the number of single-serve PET plastic bottles sold, that means 9.14 billion of those bottles could have been a Nestlé brand. Given that 86 percent of plastic bottles end up in landfills
Nestlé: The Corporate Giant
Nestlé, based in Vevey, Switzerland, is the world’s largest food and beverage company.1 One of its subsidiaries, Greenwich, Connecticut-based Nestlé Waters North America, is the top U.S. bottled water company. Its Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Nestlé Pure Life, Ozarka, Ice Mountain and Zephyrhills brands of bottled water together registered sales of $997 million in 2007, which gave Nestlé Waters North America 30 percent maket share, according to the Beverage World’s 2008 report on the industry.2 This did not include sales from the company’s other brands, such as Perrier and Calistoga.
Nestlé Tries to Buy Water for Less Than What Local Residents Pay.
Nestlé’s search for water has stirred up controversy in California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states. In McCloud, California, Nestlé sought groundwater for less than local residents pay.3 It tried to engineer a deal in which it would have paid about 1 cent to mine and then bottle every 123 gallons of the area’s groundwater — $0.000081 per gallon. By comparison, the average state rate for municipal use of groundwater is 1 cent per 40 gallons.4 Meanwhile, Nestlé can sell this water in a 16-ounce bottle for around $1.29, or $10.32 per gallon.5
Nestlé Harms Local Ecosystems
When Nestlé or any other water bottler removes large amounts of groundwater from a region or community, such as Mecosta County, Michigan, it can alter the level and flow of springs, lakes, rivers and drinking water wells. That, in turn, can harm the environments and economies that depend on the water.6,7,8
rather than being recycled, 7.86 billion of the empty PET plastic water bottles in the trash could have come from one of Nestlé’s nine domestic bottled water brands. That pencils out to more than 491,250,000 pounds of Nestlé plastic in the trash, rather than being recycled, or, better yet, never produced in the first place. 10
Communities Challenge Nestlé
Residents in communities across the country are challenging Nestlé’s attempts to bottle and sell their groundwater. Maine serves as a good example. Kennebunk residents challenged Nestlé Waters North America subsidiary Poland Spring. In November 2008 they passed a moratorium on large-scale water extraction and testing on state land within the town.11 Although the moratorium was to last only 180 days, the hope is that enough communities will pass moratoria and ordinances that activists can educate residents of other places where Nestlé might be scouting for water.12 Earlier, in September 2008, voters in Shapleigh, Maine, approved a six-month moratorium on testing or largescale extraction of water in the town.13 The anti-water bottling sentiment proved just as strong, but with longer-lasting results than a moratorium, in Enumclaw, Washington. Residents and the city council shot down Nestlé’s hopes to take water from the town’s supply.14 To learn more about the issues related to Nestlé’s operations and to bottled water in general, please see our full report, All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water on our Web site.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 “Nestle SA, the world’s largest food and beverage company, has an agreement to buy weight management firm Jenny Craig.” Food Processing, August 1, 2006. “State of the Industry ’08: Bottled Water Report.” Beverage World. April 2008 at S14. Stranko, Brian. “Nestlé Wants to Own Your Water: Time for Californians to Act.” California Progress Report, Nov. 29, 2007. Stranko, Brian. “Nestlé Wants to Own Your Water: Time for Californians to Act.” California Progress Report, Nov. 29, 2007. Lohan, Tara. “Rural communities exploited by Nestlé for your bottled water.” AlterNet. May 30, 2007. Boldt-Van Rooy, Tara. “’Bottling Up’ Our Natural Resources: The Fight Over Bottled Water Extraction in the United States.” Journal of Land Use, Vol. 18:2, Spring 2003, Pgs. 278-281 Hyndman, Ph.D., David. Associate Professor, Michigan State University. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, Dec. 12, 2007. “The Potential Economic Effects of the Proposed Water Bottling Facility in McCloud.” ECONorthwest, Eugene, OR, October 2007. Bialik, Carl. “Water Bottles Slim Down.” Wall Street Journal Blog. December 14, 2007. Food & Water Watch calculation: According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, in 2006, U.S. consumption of PET bottled water (likely in single serve bottles) was 4.7 billion gallons (Source: State of the Industry 2007, Beverage Marketing Corporation, April 2007). One gallon = 128 ounces. Convert 4.7 billion gallons to ounces (4.7 billion gallons X 128 ounces in a gallon = 601,600,000,000 ounces.) Most PET plastic bottles hold either 16 or 20 ounces. Assume 20 ounces to be conservative with this calculation. Need to convert those 601.6 billion ounces to bottles. (601,6000,000,000/20 ounces each bottle = 30,080,000,000 bottles. Nestlé controlled 30.4 percent of U.S. bottled water market in 2006. So, one must find out how many of those 30.08 billion bottles could be a Nestlé brand. So, calculate how many of those 30.08 billion bottles might have been a Nestlé brand, assuming that market share in volume roughly equates to the market share in the number of bottles sold. Calculation is 30.4 percent (.304) X 30,080,000,000 = 9.144 billion of those bottles might have been a Nestlé brand. According to statistics, 86 percent of plastic bottles are thrown away rather than recycled. So, .86 X 9.144 billion empty bottles = 7.86 billion empty plastic bottles (potentially a Nestlé brand) ending up in a landfill. Assume that each empty bottle weighs one ounce, so that is 7.86 billion ounces of plastic in the landfills. One pound = 16 ounces. 7.86 billion ounces/16 ounces in a pound = 491,250,000 pounds of plastic bottle trash that might have been attributable to Nestlé’s bottled water brands. El-Shafei, Jamilla. Save Our Water, personal interview, October 28, 2008. Ibid. Murphy, Edward D. “Shapleigh voters turn down Poland Spring - A sixmonth moratorium on water extraction and testing is a stumbling block for the bottler.” Portland Press Herald, September 21, 2008 Solomon, Cara. “Nestlé water plant? Not in our town, Enumclaw says.” The Seattle Times. July 24, 2008.
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What You Can Do
• Choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible. • Encourage your friends, family, university campus, local government and community groups to break the bottled water habit at home, the office and public events. Sign the Take Back the Tap pledge on our Web site. • Join Food & Water Watch’s campaign to urge local restaurants to stop serving bottled water. • Encourage your local government and businesses to repair and install water fountains or tap water filling stations. • Support state legislation to prevent excessive removal of groundwater. • Host a screening of one of the films available from Food & Water Watch’s Water Film Library about citizens challenging Nestlé and other water bottlers. • Get more involved in taking back the tap by contacting Food & Water Watch at 202-683-2500, cleanwater@ fwwatch.org
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For more information: web: www.foodandwaterwatch.org email: email@example.com phone: (202) 683-2500 (DC) • (415) 293-9900 (CA) Copyright © July 2009 Food & Water Watch